Thursday, December 9, 1999
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Portland City Council voted yesterday to appeal a judge's ruling ordering police to return marijuana to a man who says he wants the drug to treat his failing health.
The case comes a year after Oregon voters approved the medical use of marijuana.
The Police Department has argued that it would be violating federal law -- stating it can't distribute illegal substances -- if it followed Judge Robert Redding's October ruling to release the drugs.
The council said it is up to the Oregon Court of Appeals to decide whether federal or state law should prevail.
Redding's ruling was one of the first tests of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, said Richard White, Samuel Nim Kama's attorney.
"It does set a precedent in that it legitimizes the law in the eye of the court," White said.
White argued that police were wrong in taking the drug from his client, who had medical reasons for using it. The judge ordered only a small amount of the drug to be returned.
White would not disclose his client's medical conditions.
Police in January seized a 71-plant marijuana crop, manufacturing equipment, two pounds of marijuana in the freezer, a scale and several boxes of plastic bags from a home in southeast Portland.
While police were there, Kama, who did not live at that residence, arrived and voluntarily turned over marijuana he was carrying, according to court records. He was not charged with a crime.